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Central Qld flood victims miss out on federal funds

John McAlister fixing his Jambin property after the Australia Day floods this year.
John McAlister fixing his Jambin property after the Australia Day floods this year.

YOU can hear the frustration in John McAlister's voice when he talks about the floods that hit Central Queensland this year.

John is thousands of dollars out-of-pocket, after the Australia Day floods swept through Jambin, forcing John, his wife and two kids to evacuate.

"First we were just given advice to evacuate, and then we were told to 'get out'," he said.

"We were at the school for three days while floodwater came up. Police even had to inspect the house before they let us back in." Jambin is 115km south-west of Rockhampton.

John is one of many residents in the Banana Shire who have to handle the cost of cleaning up on their own.

The shire has been left out of the Australian Government Disaster Recovery Payment.

The payment sees $1000 for adults and $400 for children. Just one of the conditions to be eligible for payment is if you cannot gain access to your place of residence for more than 24 hours.

John and his family were evacuated for three days, but instead of getting the much-needed flood assistance, he got a letter stating that his flood claim was unsuccessful and he did not "meet the conditions for the payment".

"I have a one acre property and all my fences have been torn down," he said.

John told The Morning Bulletin they had been through three floods in Jambin so far this year due to all the rain in the past couple of months.

"Water went through my shed; it cost me over $1000 for a new bore and around $4000 to rebuild the driveway," he said.

"I had just finished putting up the mesh fence from damage from the 2011 floods and now that's gone."

Along with the cost to fix up his property, John said he had to take time off work after the floods.

"I've used up all my holidays and took leave without pay."

But John is not alone in this, and Banana Shire Mayor Ron Carige is trying to get the shire put on the list for the disaster payment.

"No one can give us a reason why we've been left out," Cr Carige said. "I've written to the PM and haven't had a reply back."

Cr Carige said while flood assistance was available for rural producers in the region, residents with small acreages and people in town have been left on their own.

"I sympathise with the residents and we're doing our best," he said.

Member for Flynn Ken O'Dowd is also pushing the issue, trying to get a response from the Government.

"The confusing part is that Gladstone, Rockhampton, Bundaberg, Fraser Coast and Gympie got their assistance immediately," Mr O'Dowd said.

"The Attorney-General's office told the mayor that Banana didn't have enough damage done (to get the payment). It's hard to believe first-hand, when I see Jambin; they were without power, couldn't get to homes and were evacuated. I've called for a full disclosure of documentation from the government to explain why they were isolated from money."

The Bulletin tried to contact the Attorney-General's office yesterday, but did not receive a response.

Topics:  australian government, cq, floods 2013, jambin



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